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Blade: Trinity (2004)

Blade III

The final hunt begins.

Directed by:

David S. Goyer

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 113 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Country: United States

Ever since the Bruce Lee-fuelled kung fu craze of the early seventies spawned the high-kicking horror hybrid ‘Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires’ (1974), martial arts and vampires have gone together like Buffy and Spike. One of the bastard children of this B-genre coupling was Blade – a half-vampire half-human ‘daywalker’ named for the samurai sword which, along with an arsenal of other weapons, he employs in his relentless pursuit of the undead who have been infiltrating human élites in their quest for control of a permanent blood supply.

Originally a character from Marvel Comics, Blade was made flesh by Wesley Snipes first in Stephen Norrington’s breathtakingly over-the-top ‘Blade’ (1998), and next in Guillermo del Toro’s even more baroquely demented ‘Blade II’ (2002). The films were originally conceived by screenwriter David Goyer to become a trilogy, and their winning combination of updated vampirology, lightning fast action and po-faced mayhem made a third instalment inevitable. Del Toro’s commitments to ‘Hellboy’ prevented him from returning to the helm, so Goyer himself stepped in despite his inexperience as a director – and so ‘Blade: Trinity’ was born, proving the truism, albeit in an unusually literal fashion, that the final parts of trilogies always suck.

In a two-pronged effort to get rid of Blade once and for all, a well-organized outfit of the undead, led by the appropriately vampish Danica Talos (Parker Posey), both publicly frames Blade as a murderer, and awakens Drake (Dominic Purcell), the oldest and purest of all the vampires, from his resting place beneath an Iraqi pyramid. When Blade’s mentor Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) gets killed during an FBI raid on their hideout, Blade is forced to join the ‘Nightstalkers’, a small band of vampire hunters headed by Whistler’s daughter Abigail (Jessica Biel) and the wisecracking Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds). The vampires are experimenting with Drake’s DNA as part of their ‘final solution’, but the Nightstalkers in turn are developing a biological weapon that could wipe out the entire vampire race. The only problem is that this vampire virus requires a sample of Drake’s pure blood, and the ancient shape-shifter is not a generous donor.

In an early draft for this film, Blade was to be the last remaining hope for humankind in a future world already entirely subjugated to the undead. The fact that this plotline was dumped on the grounds that it was too ‘dark’ says it all about the shortcomings of the film that eventually took its place – take the darkness away from vampires, and their films usually end up having little bite – or, in the case of Blade, you have a swordsman who lacks any kind of sharp edge. The fights and actions sequences, while all present and accounted for, are pretty uninspired here, and, despite the addition of a range of new weapons, lack that special magic to take them beyond what has already been seen in other Blade outings. Much is made of how primally evil Drake is supposed to be, but he turns out to be far blander and less menacing than the opponents Blade has previously faced. Goyer’s workaday direction, while full of noise, lacks any sense of rhythm and fails to build things to a noticeable climax, so that, instead of immersing viewers in a gripping story, it leaves them with an experience as uninvolving as watching someone else half-competently play a computer game.

Where the other two ‘Blade’ films managed to be funny merely by keeping a perfectly straight face throughout their absurd excesses, ‘Blade: Trinity’ needs an actual comic to inject some much-needed humour into its underwhelming scenes. Fortunately the clownish Ryan Reynolds rises to the occasion with his Jason Lee-style routine as Blade’s comedy sidekick Hannibal, and proves to be the film’s best asset. His endless tone-lowering, Blade-baiting quips might even temporarily distract viewers from the script’s more pressing problems.

It's Got: Parker Posey in fine form as a camp vamp; Ryan Reynolds stealing the show with his endless wisecracks; Wesley Snipe’s Blade saying “coochy coo” to a baby; a Pomeranian devil dog; and some striking references to contemporary politics (even if they go nowhere), including a suggestion that the real WMD which the Coalition failed to find in Iraq was a well-concealed ancient vampire, and Blade’s assertion that the President of the United States must be “an asshole”.

It Needs: To have a more menacing antagonist, to be more coherent and engaging, and to seem less tired.

Alternatives:

'Blade II', 'Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires', Blade

Summary

Let’s hope this underwhelming third instalment really is the final nail in the Blade coffin.

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